Steelers schedule: Christmas Day, 5 primetime games and the Patriots at Heinz Field

Christmas comes early when the Steelers host the Patriots Dec. 17, part of a ridiculously tough second half.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ 2017 schedule is out, and it starts with the Browns. Thank you, NFL, for an undefeated start to the year. After that … we’ll see.

Pittsburgh has a relatively easy opening slate, facing the Browns before hosting Minnesota, who could be in the midst of an offensive changeover this season with quarterback questions and a new running back after the end of the Adrian Peterson era. Three road games in four weeks is tough, but if the Steelers could pick an early set of road games, it would almost certainly be at Cleveland and at Chicago, their Weeks 1 and 3 opponents.

Then come the Ravens. That’s never easy.

2017 Steelers Schedule

Sep. 10at Cleveland Browns1:00 PMCBS
Sep. 17Minnesota Vikings1:00 PMFOX
Sep. 24at Chicago Bears1:00 PMCBS
Oct. 1at Baltimore Ravens1:00 PMCBS
Oct. 8Jacksonville Jaguars1:00 PMCBS
Oct. 15at Kansas City Chiefs4:25 PMCBS
Oct. 22Cincinnati Bengals1:00 PMCBS
Oct. 29at Detroit Lions *8:30 PMNBC
Nov. 5BYE
Nov. 12at Indianapolis Colts1:00 PMCBS
Nov. 16Tennessee Titans (Thu)8:25 PMNBC/NFLN/Amazon
Nov. 26Green Bay Packers *8:30 PMNBC
Dec. 4at Cincinnati Bengals (Mon)8:30 PMESPN
Dec. 10Baltimore Ravens *8:30 PMNBC
Dec. 17New England Patriots4:25 PMCBS
Dec. 25at Houston Texans (Mon)4:30 PMNBC/NFLN/Amazon
Dec. 31Cleveland Browns1:00 PMCBS

Jacksonville could be better this year, but it’s in Pittsburgh in Week 5, so this schedule is looking like a very favorable start to the year. Like, 4-1 or 5-0 favorable. But then it gets tougher, with a game at Kansas City before hosting the Bengals and a visit to Detroit on a Sunday night in late October.

The bye week is right in the middle of the season this year, which isn’t terrible, but may not help much in terms of getting the team healthy for the playoff run. And the stretch out of the bye is ridiculous, with a game at Indy then hosting Tennessee four days later on NBC’s Thursday night offering (also on Amazon streaming!) before hosting Green Bay again on NBC a week later. Then, the next week, the Steelers are on Monday Night Football against the Bengals then back on Sunday Night Football against the Ravens.

Then the Patriots come to town, before another game on NBC — this time on Christmas Day — at Houston before ending the season ostensibly where they started, facing Cleveland.

Look, the Steelers are Super Bowl contenders no matter who they play, but to start the season this easy and stack the second half the way the NFL did is diabolical. And yet, five of the Steelers’ last seven games are at home.

Were we complaining earlier? Never mind. Thanks to an early hot start, this is surely another playoff season, injuries notwithstanding.